“Raymond! What are you boys up to this evening? Hopefully no trouble?”
These kinds of inquisitions were always thrown towards my great grandfather by porch-sitting neighbors as he and his friends would scour the streets of their hometown on weekend nights in search of fun. During these outings,
their usual destination was the local Opera House. The lighting in downtown Earlville, New York was dim from the aging gas streetlights, except in the area that surrounded the Opera House. The House`s gothic architecture was intensely illuminated by the bulbs that adorned it, letting passers know the Opera House was a place that welcomed all, especially rowdy teenage boys looking to ease their boredom.
Growing up in the small upstate village of Earlville during the early 1900`s, Raymond Loomis Hoadley and the other 873 residents of the town did not have many ways to entertain themselves (“Earlville, New York”). But, thankfully for Raymond, the Earlville Opera House was downtown nestled next to the post office on Douglass Block. The theater was an exciting attraction for Raymond and the other members of the community who sought an artistic escape from the mundanity of their lives. On Saturday nights, Raymond and his friends from the neighborhood would go to the Opera House for “live entertainment such as: vaudeville acts, three-penny operas, and travelling medicine shows” (“Welcome!”). The Opera House also included two art galleries where local artists could present their work for the town. Because of Earlville Opera House`s preservation and appreciation of the arts, the site became a symbol of artistic freedom and escape for the residents of Earlville. Perhaps, this exposure to art is what planted a love for it in Raymond which led to him becoming a professional writer in New York City.
Throughout his childhood, Raymond was always coming up with creative ideas to entertain himself and others—especially through pranks. Once, he secretly dressed up as an old widow; then at dusk he took a walk through the middle of town—much to the surprise of all the women who porch-sat at this hour. After weeks of his mother hearing about a mysterious woman roaming about town at sunset, she got suspicious and uncovered that it was in fact Raymond. Then, there was the time he and his friends built a wooden cross and placed it, burning with flames, atop the hill outside the village and rang the church bells. Many women throughout the town fainted from fear that the world was ending. His partner in crime was his best friend Harry Clarke. Many referred to them as “Mutt and Jeff” (Hoadley).
Raymond Hoadley graduated from Earlville High School in the year 1920. This seems odd due to the fact that he was born July 15th 1900. But, during the flu epidemic of 1918 Raymond fell ill. This illness not only attributed to his graduating two years late from high school, but also resulted in the loss of all his hair and a great deal of weight, something his daughter Gail believes caused his “quiet and reserved demeanor” (Hoadley). This quiet demeanor followed him to college at the University of Pennsylvania but did not hinder his involvement in numerous clubs and honor societies. During his collegiate years, Raymond spent his time as a member of the Friars Senior Society, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Franklin Literary Society, and as the president of the Empire State Club (U.S., School Yearbooks). He was also on the board of numerous committees such as the Provst Smith Memorial Vigilance, Chairman Picture, and Methodist committee (U.S., School Yearbooks). While enrolled at U Penn, Raymond`s love for writing and community service flourished, as seen through his rigorous involvement in multiple extra circulars.
In addition to writing, during his college years he also gained an interest in the field of business through his involvement in the prestigious Wharton School of Business and Finance. Here, he became president of the Wharton Association which reflects his level of interest and talent for the subject of business. After his graduation from the University of Pennsylvania in 1924, he began his much accomplished career in journalism. Raymond moved to New York City, rooming with his future brother in law and childhood friend Frank Briggs, and secured a job with the New York News Bureau (Hoadley). During this time, Raymond wrote columns for different publications, including: Aviation Magazine, Medical Economics, the Brooklyn Eagle, and the Wall Street Journal.
As a result of Betty Briggs` many visits to her brother Frank`s apartment, a love blossomed between her and Raymond. The two married in the year 1930 while visiting their shared hometown of Earlville. After the wedding, the couple moved to Brooklyn where they had two children. Remembering her parents lives over the course of the Great Depression, my great aunt Gail writes, “Early remembrances of my father include visits to old, lonely, and needy people whom dad had befriended; gardening in the huge vegetable plot in the back of the Belvedere Apartments where we lived in 1937 and 1938…Dad losing his job when the newspaper folded in 1939” (Hoadley). Despite Raymond`s affluent upbringing, as well as his success at the University of Pennsylvania, the Depression still affected him and his family. This difficult decade was definitive in Raymond`s life and career. Through these hard times, Raymond`s responsibility to ethical journalism positively influenced many readers who were financially suffering. For example, in his weekly column “As the Street Views it,” Raymond interviewed passing New Yorkers about the financial issues they faced personally in an attempt to relate their stories to the stories of those reading the column. Because of my great grandfather`s dedication to reporting the economic condition of the country in an easy to understand manner, many people became reliant on his words to bring them crucial information regarding their wellbeing. As a result from his hard work, in 1940 Raymond was hired on at the New York Herald Tribune.
At the Herald, he made a name for himself in the publishing and journalism industry through his founding of the World Trade Writer`s Association. In addition, he also served as president of the New York Financial Writer`s Association. At the time of his retirement at 1960, he was highly regarded as the financial editor at the Herald Tribune. His success at the Herald not only reflects his dedication to writing, but also his love for it—a characteristic that most likely stemmed from the influence that art had on him throughout his childhood. The Earlville Opera House served so much of an artistic influence over Raymond that he named his son, and my grandfather, Douglass Raymond Hoadley, after Douglass block where the Opera House was located. On the Earlville Opera House`s website, a vision statement is listed as follows: “The Earlville Opera House will: Serve all of the residents of the surrounding communities by increasing the diversity of programming and audiences; Improve Central New York through the arts; Provide outreach to schools and communities; Foster communication and collaboration among arts groups and institutions; and Serve as an example of historic preservation efforts” (Welcome!) I feel that the Opera House`s values mirrored Raymond`s values, which is why he lived such an artistic and influential life dedicated to service.
“Earlville, New York.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 13 May 2018,en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earlville, New York.
Hoadley, Gail. Raymond L. Hoadley. 1987. MS. Author`s private collection.
“U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012”; Yearbook Title: The Record; Year: 1924
“Welcome! – The Earlville Opera House: A Multi Arts Center.” Earlville OperaHouse,www.earlvilleoperahouse.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/Content.Display/Page/Home.cfm.